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Recovery Month: Looking at stress

September 5, 2010
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Education is a key to freedom. Wisdom protects our children, our families, and us from unnecessary, often painful, consequences. And many people in our society are suffering from excess stress. September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. "Now More Than Ever" is the focus of this 20th year of promoting public awareness and education about substance abuse addiction. You'll read more each week through the month.

First, you should know substance abuse and addiction can happen to anyone at any age. It can happen unintentionally. It can happen by choice or just plain bad decision-making. BUT, it is treatable. No one has to go through it alone, and you CAN get your life back.

This year, SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) wants everyone to take a look at their stress levels because stress has an impact on addiction and is increasingly a problem for today's society. Some 30 percent of those surveyed say their stress is extreme.

The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that more than 23 million people needed treatment for a substance abuse disorder in the U.S. that year. Stress can push a person to self-medicate to deal with stress and pain, becoming addicted to their "drug of choice." High stress can push a recovered individual to relapse into substance abuse.

The most misused prescription drugs are pain relievers, psychotherapeutics, sedatives and tranquilizers. The most misused illicit drugs are crack, crack cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin, LSD, marijuana and methamphetamine. Round out the list with alcohol, inhalants and tobacco products.

In 2008 there were 4.4 million ER visits related to the misuse of alcohol and drugs, both illicit and prescription, and except for cocaine, most of those ER visits involved individuals younger than age 30. The age 35-44 age group claimed the most ER visits related to cocaine. Alcohol is still the main problem among the younger generation. Older adults are more sensitive to the effects of substance use as they age. Physical changes affect how their bodies react to the drugs they use. They may over-use prescription drugs with increased pain and stress. Or what they mix with their regular prescription drugs can cause addiction. Workplace stress can result in addiction issues, as well as public safety officials who deal with substance use disorders in any given day on the job or even develop addictions themselves.

But, how do you handle stress? It IS a problem. It has been reported that 75-90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems.

Simplify your life. Which activities are really important in your life? Say no to those that are not important.

Be prepared. Anticipate challenges ahead and plan around them. Maybe we all have gotten into the habit of not looking past the ends of our noses.

Live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly to reduce tension and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to increase energy and keep stress under control.

Keep open communication. Let others know when you have trouble and ask for assistance.

There are obstacles for seeking treatment when you do have an addiction problem: Cost, stigma, denial and education. As we progress through the month of September, look for more articles about individuals who are working to overcome the obstacles that delayed their recovery. For more information about Recovery Month, contact Family Recovery Center, 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, You can check out Recovery Month at Facebook or at the web site, FRC is funded, in part, by ODADAS (Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services). You can also visit the ODADAS website at



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